All the best Korean dramas to watch on Netflix
As Parasite blows the film world to sheds, and K-Pop stans continue to bombard Twitter, South Korean media has a huge spotlight on it, as it rightfully deserves. Hallyuwood has been given a chance to shine more than it has in the past thanks to the Internet and streaming services like Netflix offering a variety of international content.
While Bollywood has finally become a driving force internationally, Hallyuwood is getting a turn to serve more than just Korean audiences. Netflix has plenty of Korean dramas for you to binge once you’re bored of the same old stories Netflix shows create. But even that back catalog has so much to pick from, it’s overwhelming to figure out for certain what show is right for you. We got you covered.
For fans of the supernatural: Oh My Ghost (2015)
Assistant chef Na Bong-sun (Park Bo-young) is not exactly the most confident girl in the world. But thanks to her shaman grandmother, Bong-sun gets possessed by a young virgin ghost, Shin Soon-ae (Kim Seul-gi). Since Soon-ae thinks she can’t move on to the afterlife until she gets laid, she works her magic with Bong-sun to find the perfect match.
Thanks to the newfound confidence through Soon-ae, Bong-sun is able to attract the attention of her boss and crush, superstar chef Kang Sun-woo (Jo Jung-suk). While everything is going on in Bong-sun’s life though, the mysterious circumstances surrounding Soon-ae’s death are still being investigated by police, as everything is not what it seems.
While definitely more on the dramedy side, Oh My Ghost still promises plenty of romance and intrigue for its viewers. While you root for Soon-ae and Bong-sun to be successful, you’re excited to find out how the two became one, and how Soon-ae died in the first place. There’s a Thai remake of the series as well, once you’re finished with the original (and clearly superior) version.
For fans of high-concept romance: Love Alarm
Based on a webcomic of the same name, this drama focuses on a world where you can find out who likes you based on an alert on your phone. If someone within a 10-meter vicinity likes you, you’ll receive a notification about it to help you either ignore them or get closer to them.
But it’s not all sunshine and rainbows, as no one can hide their true feelings with Love Alarm. Kim So-hyun stars as Kim Jo-jo, the girl who broke the dating rules when she got stuck in a love triangle with two guys without using Love Alarm. Her love interests are the superstar Hwang Sun-oh (Song Kang) and Jo-jo’s best friend with a secret crush, Lee Hye-yeong (Jung Ga-ram).
While anyone who loves a good love triangle will love Love Alarm, people who have issues with “Big Brother” will enjoy the conversation the app brings about. If you can’t hide your true feelings, what kind of world does that create? The trailer shows a boy being beaten for his sexuality based on a Love Alarm ring on another boy, as well as huge protests against the app. So not only is there romance, there’s a bit of technological commentary.
For fans of youthful drama: Hello My Twenties
Five young girls are the focus of Hello My Twenties, referred to as the Belle Epoque, which means beautiful age in French. The show follows these five girls as they go through college and find friendship through their youthful woes. Of course, there’s plenty of boy drama to go around, with each girl getting their own relationship woes to conquer.
If you’re thinking to yourself, “This sounds like Korean Gossip Girl or 91210”, you’re right. Affluent young women trying to find their way through life is definitely a genre appealing to some, and Hello My Twenties gives you a little bit of chance to see what that’s like in South Korea.
For fans of friends falling in love: Romance Is a Bonus Book
Cha Eun-ho (Lee Jong-suk) has Kang Dan-i (Lee Na-young) to thank for his life, as she saved him in an awful accident as a child. The two have remained friends throughout the years, and when Dan-i is looking for work, Eun-ho brings her on as a temp at his publishing company. But what they don’t know is what this job will bring for both of them: love.
Everyone and their mother has seen a “two friends end up falling for each other” cliche over the years. Just look at how many times the characters in Friends got together with each other. But with such a personal backstory as Eun-ho and Dan-i’s, it feels more personal and like fate.
Yeah, this is a cliche concept for a series, but it offers a twist on an old classic cliche. Dan-i got injured when she saved Eun-ho, so he stayed by her side until she was completely healed. There’s a real connection between two people who care for each other so deeply, and that’s what keeps you hooked to see if they end up together.
For fans of immersive fantasy worlds: Arthdal Chronicles
Taking place in a Bronze Age-like era, the mythical world Arth has several tribes struggling for power. In the city of Arthdal, Eun-seom (Song Joong-ki) tries to bring his tribe back to life, while finding out the truth of his family’s origins along the way. Of course, nothing is easy in the world of Arth.
Game of Thrones fans may already be familiar with this series, as some fans were vocal online about the similarities between the shows. But the reality is this show is far different and offers a different kind of drama for fans of fantasy. These tribes aren’t built like kingdoms, and are more built like families, with some members more power-hungry than others.
Gorgeous cinematography and immersive sets really bring the city of Arthdal to life. Plus, Eun-seom has such an interesting backstory, you’re invested in his journey whether he succeeds or fails. Ta-gon (Jang Dong-gun) is also an intimidating villain, the best kind that you love to hate.
For fans of slice of life dramas: Something in the Rain
While Romance Is a Bonus Book tries to twist the “friends falling in love” cliche, Something in the Rain follows it to a T while offering a day-to-day drama at the same time. Yoon Jin-ah (Son Ye-jin) is a 30-something who lives a calm life, until her best friend’s younger brother Seo Joon-hee (Jung Hae-in) returns home.
As the two catch up for past time, Jin-ah realizes that the Joon-hee she once knew is gone, and his time away has turned him into a new man. The two begin to fall in love thanks to Joon-hee growing up during his time abroad. Of course, it’s not all lovey-dovey for our future couple.
Cliches don’t automatically mean something’s bad, as Something in the Rain proves that. You still enjoy the story being told in front of you, even if it’s something you’ve heard multiple times before. Plus, the chemistry between Ye-jin and Hae-in is undeniable.
For fans of suspenseful drama: Cheese in the Trap
Yoo Jung (Park Hae-jin) is a master of deceptive kindness. While he uses his wealth to treat those around him well, he’s also good at using it to destroy anyone who irritates him. Hong Seol (Kim Go-eun) catches on to his plan, and becomes the next victim, to the point where she has to drop out of school.
But Seol gets invited back with a scholarship that Jung was supposed to receive, Seol gets treated with kindness by Jung. Their relationship is uncomfortable thanks to Jung’s earlier antics, and becomes even more complicated by Jung’s estranged best friend and best friend’s sister’s arrival.
The way Jung treats people is disgusting, and you hope that he finally gets caught. Once you find out how he and his best friend fell apart too, it becomes clear that Jung uses his money to be the most powerful man in the room, and that’s all he cares about. If you want a show with a clear villain, Cheese in the Trap has you covered.
For fans of roommate stories: My First First Love
College student Yun Tae-o ends up with a busier house than expected when three of his friends move in with him. Han Song-i (Jung Chae-yeon) lost both her parents and dropped out of university, O Ga-rin (Choi Ri) ran away from home to experience life on her own, and Choe Hun (Kang Tae-oh) is a childhood friend of Tae-o.
With all of them coming from different lives, living together doesn’t go as well as they want. But with such different people together, each character has a unique support system. Plus, each friend moves in to deal with a separate issue, so they have to try and work to solve the issue that led to their escape in the first place.
There’s a variety of drama going on in Tae-o’s home thanks to his new roommates, with a little something for everyone. Want a rich girl sick of her rich girl life? Got that. Want a daughter dealing with a dead parent and a deadbeat parent? Got that too. How about a rich kid who gets cut off because of his dream career? Yep. There’s a lot to enjoy in My First First Love.
For fans of clique run high schools: Boys Over Flowers
F4 are the legendary group of boys who run Shinhwa High School’s social scene. Led by Shinhwa Group heir Gu Jun-pyo (Lee Min-ho), the group is full of fellow heirs in Korea, looking down on everyone else poorer than them. When F4 bullies a kid to the point of suicide, Geum Jan-di (Ku Hye-sun) steps in and saves the day, receiving a Shinhwa High School scholarship for swimming in the process.
The moment she steps foot in the school, Jan-di hates all of her rich classmates and especially F4. While becoming target number one for the group, Jan-di stands up to Jun-pyo, causing him to fall for her. Jan-di begins to infiltrate the group and learn more about F4 and the drama going on with the group.
There’s a lot going on at Shinhwa High School, and while F4 is the main attraction, each member has their own issues going on. Watching the group slowly become more tolerant and kind-hearted thanks to Jan-di, as she accepts that the rich aren’t as different as she thought they were is a treat.
For fans of satire: Sky Castle
Welcome to the community of Sky Castle, where housewives spend their days making their family more successful all from the comfort of their own home. Whether it’s sabotaging others so their husband climbs higher, or getting advisors to help rig the college exams to get their kids in, the wives are manipulative.
Specifically, Han Seo-jin (Yum Jung-ah) works with coordinator Kim Joo-young (Kim Seo-hyung) to get her daughter into Seoul University Medical School. After a tragic suicide, Seo-jin’s husband’s enemy and his family move into the neighborhood, causing tension through petty arguments.
Think Korean Desperate Housewives, except Sky Castle, is a parody of such shows. The show takes the world of affluent families and the underground world of manipulating the university game. Taking on the rich lifestyle isn’t unheard of, but the way Sky Castle treats its subject as if it’s a real drama makes it that much funnier.